The Fund identifies organizations that are leading the charge for protection and enforcement of human rights, building on-the-ground demand for change, and feeding into global efforts to press for equality, justice and accountability. Here are some of our grantees’ accomplishments in 2015 broken down by issue:
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
Following extensive investigation by grantee SOS-Disparus, a French court indicted two Algerians living in France on charges of torture and grave human rights abuses perpetrated during Algeria’s 10-year civil war. 200,000 Algerians were killed and 7,000 forcibly disappeared during the conflict.
CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Honduran grantee OFRANEH won a landmark case when a judge halted the illegal construction of a luxury hotel complex that would have forcibly evicted the Garifuna community of Barra Vieja from their ancestral lands.
Mexico’s Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of Mexico’s exploitative Mining Law – a huge victory for mining-affected communities, who were not consulted on the law’s contents. Fund grantees had won a series of cases against mining concessions in Colima, Puebla, and Guerrero, all granted without informed consent, which directly led to the Supreme Court’s decision.
Following consultations with grantee Roshni Helpline, the Sindh Assembly in Pakistan passed the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, which prohibits the marriage of children under 18 years – the first time a provincial legislature in Pakistan has acted to curb child marriages.
Thirteen military police officers in Congo were sentenced for crimes of sexual and gender-based violence committed against underage girls in Beni – a rare victory in a country where perpetrators enjoy widespread impunity. Grantee SOFEPADI accompanied the victims and, in response to the military’s delay tactic citing lack of space, built a tent to expedite the trial.
LET successfully urged the Tunisian electoral commission to exempt poor women from a fee for identity cards, which are required to vote. At least 6,000 women were able to vote because of this exemption.
For the first time in Chihuahua, Mexico, five men were sentenced to 697 years in prison for human trafficking and aggravated homicide for reasons of gender.Grantee Justicia helped bring in over 180 witnesses during the three-month trial, which involved the trafficking and murder of 11 women and garnered significant public attention to this often overlooked issue.
Grantees WAHD and DCI-SL persuaded hospitals in Sierra Leone’s Bombali and Bo districts to establish special units to provide examination and treatment for victims of sexual violence during the Ebola crisis. Medical exams are required for victims to bring legal cases against their attackers, but many women face barriers or stigma in accessing these exams.
Thanks to advocacy by Cattrachas, the UN made 13 recommendations to the Honduran government on ending discrimination against LGBTI people. Subsequent pressure by Cattrachas led the government to sign an agreement with LGBTI coalitions vowing to work jointly to fulfill the recommendations.
Following a wave of hate crimes against LGBTI Liberians during the Ebola outbreak, grantee SAIL trained 150 police officers in Monrovia on LGBTI rights. The police have since established a hotline for LGBTI people to call in case of attack; previously, they rarely investigated reports of violence and sometimes even arrested the victim.
Following years of advocacy by FTDES, the Tunisian government created a special commission to investigate the cases of 1,500 migrants disappeared at sea. This represents a critical first step in the victims’ families search for truth and justice. Grantees FJEDD in Mexico and COFAMIPRO in Honduras successfully pressured the Mexican government to spearhead a transnational mechanism that will enable Central American countries to coordinate investigations of disappeared migrants and share DNA and other evidence.
NUPL successfully halted the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina migrant sentenced to death after the Indonesian government accused her of smuggling drugs. NUPL has also brought a case against Veloso’s recruiter in the Philippines, a deterrent to those who would exploit vulnerable migrants.
FTDES, along with Advocats Sans Frontières, successfully fought a case against five Tunisian companies—all members of the Belgian textile group Jacques Bruynooghe—for violations of the rights of 311 female workers in Monastir. The court ruled against the companies, which were forced to grant the workers 1.8 million euros in compensation for unfair dismissal.
In India, Fund grantees successfully advocated against a 25 percent budget cut to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. This was a huge victory for the thousands of impoverished laborers who have benefited from NREGA’s guarantee of 100 days of work per year.
Activism Under Threat
Grantees ERIC and COPA won a rare victory against Honduras’ powerful oligarchy when their investigation led the Honduran Supreme Court to free activist José Isabel Morales and annul his 17-year prison sentence. Morales was unjustly criminalized for leading his community’s efforts to recover their lands, which had been illegally claimed by wealthy land owners.